I'm figuring you, the reader, are in one of three categories:
A: A "newbie" who never played this game, either because it came out before you were born or you skipped it because you were too busy playing Mortal Kombat and Virtua Cop.
B: A non-RPG'er who got converted sometime in the past, and now is trying to make up for lost time.
C: Someone who played the original, and want to know if this game fits the bill.
I'll be as detailed as I can for all of you.
First, Dragon Warrior is indeed the 4th in the series, however it is the first in a trilogy called the Zenithia Trilogy. Part 4 we received stateside way back years ago on the NES. We never got parts 5 and 6; in my opinion, neither really had the appeal of part 4. This one attempts to tell a story the way I feel a story should be told: introduce each core character separately, as 'chapters', then bring them all together and finish on a strong note. IF you've ever played Phantasy Star III, it's kind of the same thing, only these peeps aren't related to one another. Note that when you beat Chapter 5, there is an additional Chapter which you must save after the credits and load to get access to. The NES version had no such additional Chapter.
Sometime in the late 90's-early 2k, Enix announced it was remaking Part 4 on the PlayStation. Needless to say, fans were absolutely ecstatic. It released in Japan, and it was like the world had ended...mobs of people picking up the game. Shortly before its US release date...Enix announced that we were not getting it due to what they claimed was the lack of ability to work with the translation and code. Needless to say, fans were absolutely irate. It wasn't pretty, trust me.
Now, here we are, almost a decade later. The reason I told you the background, is that this is the exact same game as the PlayStation version. That's important, because if you're expecting some touch screen controls to navigate, you'll be sorely disappointed. "Port" is a perfect word for this. If you're the kind of person who doesn't care, great. Keep reading....
Your first task is Ragnar. He's a soldier in a kingdom where the children seem to have gone missing. It's up to you to find them...and to help a creature in need. Next is the tomboy princess Alena, who along with her companions wants to be free from the burdens of being royalty, and prove herself in the tournament. Next up is "Torneko" (more on why I quoted that later), who is on a quest to be the world's greatest merchant. Rounding out the crew is "Maya" and "Meena", twin sisters who are trying to solve their father's murder, and lastly, your hero, where you'll meet up with all of the previously named and embark on the final quest.
If you've played the original, you've played this one; there are few differences in the core gameplay. Of note is the now-common addition of the Tiny Medal sidequest to the game. Find enough and you'll be rewarded with various specialty items. There is one very unexpected change...in the NES version, during the final chapter, you only had control over the Hero, none of your party members. In this version, you can control everyone individually. The auto control wasn't really a big issue except at the last boss, because Brey (more on why you're just now hearing that name later) would always cast that ice spell on him which did almost no damage instead of using Bikill which would have resulted in an easy win. There were ways around this, but still, it was annoying.
The music is now orchestrated, and tracks that you may remember from the NES version make quite the triumphant return. It's immediately evident that at the time, it would have stood out in a lot of people's eyes had we gotten it stateside.
Graphically, the game looks way dated; almost a mirror image of Dragon Quest VII, if you ever bothered to play that game (I did, never beat it). It uses a 3D environment, and 2D sprites stretched to 3D (but still 2D when you look directly at them). Pixels abound, and small things are a little difficult to see, but not too much.
You can see pictures for the weapons, armor and items! This is a great thing for me. I used to love looking at the pictures of the things as I equipped them, from the instruction book. After a point you had no picture to reference, and you were left wondering what certain weapons looked like. Now you can see them in the game, and it's pretty cool. Also, the shop tells you in advance what sell price you can get for your stuff before you sell it, so you don't have to pick each one and guess. Major improvement; that annoyed me before.
Now, for the complaints. And there are a few - mind you, I'm an old school gamer, and Dragon Quest IV was designed with me in mind; I've never played a more enthralling RPG in my life, not even the mighty Chrono Trigger.
- Game is TOO EASY. I don't know what happened, but in Ragnar's scenario in particular, I distinctly recall it being much more challenging; I even remember the minor strategy guide that was in the back of the book on the NES version. You needed to be at least level 3 or higher to go to the second town, like level 6 or something to go through the first true "dungeon", and then some higher levels to even stand a chance at the tower. I'm waxing through people like it's nothing, half trying. Plus with the items now scattered all over the place it negates you having to really grind for money to buy those healing herbs you needed; just break some jars.
- The dialogue was screwed up BIG time. I know a lot of people hated the Old English way of speaking before, but I much preferred it over this. I can barely understand anyone in some parts of the game. You've got Scottish speakers, slang speakers, etc. And what's worse is that the translators thought it'd be funny to purposely misspell certain words to "emphasize the accent". I find it just way too hard to understand what they're saying. Stuff like "I dinnae kno any wee bit o path up the hill". Come on now.
- Names were changed; detracts from the nostalgia. Ragnar did not have a last name. Everyone else's first name was changed besides Alena. No "Brey", "Cristo", "Taloon" (I HATE the name Torneko), "Mara", or "Nara". I'd say more, but I'd spoil stuff. It felt like you have friends growing up, go into a cryogenic unit for 20 years, come back and your friends are all dead, but their children who look just like them but with different names are there now. I didn't care for this at all, as minor as it may seem to some of you.
- Creature names not true to the original. It's not "Bubble Slime", it's Babble. There are others, trust me. It really bothers me, I don't know why.
- They changed some of the Weapons/Armors. Not just the items themselves, but their locations and names. "Sword of Malice" is now "Cautery Sword". I can't tell you how much I hate the new name. "Malice" is automatically equated to pain. "Cautery" makes me think of a chef in a kitchen. Again, there are others. In the NES version you could buy all of the Metal Babble Equipment with the right key and enough cash; now you can buy the armor, but the helmet takes the development of a town that's otherwise useless, and I only found one shield. Just a couple of examples of butchering things that should have been left well enough alone.
In short: do I recommend it? Absolutely. But just know...this is old school at its finest. IF you can't handle a TRADITIONAL RPG, one that sticks to the basics as close as it can...skip this game, please.